Samui Wining & Dining
These days it’s incredibly easy to come and live on Samui – and totally worth it.

These days it’s incredibly easy to come and live on Samui – and totally worth it.Samui’s frequently referred to as a paradise on earth; over the years it’s become a world-renowned holiday destination that attracts over a million visitors per year. There are plenty of people who come back year after year, booking a new holiday each time. But it’s one thing to vacation in a place, and another to actually live there. So the big question is: just how easy is it to move to Thailand and drive down your tent pegs on the country’s third largest island?


Some holidaymakers will scratch their heads and wonder if it’s even possible. Surely, you can’t just go and settle in Thailand, can you? The immediate answer is that, yes, more or less, you can. Unlike many countries, setting up in Thailand is very, very easy. There are relatively few procedures to follow, and you don’t even need to prepare a ton of documents before you leave your own country. The ease in which you can settle in Thailand is perhaps one of the best plus points. Similarly it’s just as easy to work or retire here. The procedures to follow lie outside the scope of this article, but you can easily find them on the internet. It’s also astonishingly easy to buy a house, villa or condo here.

Living in a place, many people say, isn’t the same as having a holiday there. And they are of course completely correct. But contrary to what they believe, living in a place is even better than spending a few weeks in a hotel – at least where Samui is concerned. Once you’re actually living here, you’ll find lots of ways to cut the costs of living. Within a few months of arriving you’ll easily work out where to shop, These days it’s incredibly easy to come and live on Samui – and totally worth and get just about any kind of supplies you’ll want or need. And you’ll also find your own favourite spots to swim, walk and relax.


The weather here is sunny almost all year round. Thailand’s climates and monsoons can make it hard to establish where the best regions are, but it’s generally acknowledged that this part of the Gulf of Siam enjoys one of the nation’s best climates. The rainy season is about a month long, with the focus being in November. Either side of the month can be affected, but that’s generally it as far as bad weather goes. And the rest of the time, it’s basically sun, sun and more sun. The hottest part of the year is from January through till the end of April, when it’s also very dry. Some people love this season the best, but if you don’t like heat, it can be a problem.


Samui’s beaches, as you probably know, are amazing when it comes to relaxing. White sands with swaying palms aren’t the stuff of imagination – you can find this here and just as good, the beaches rarely get too crowded. Only Chaweng in the high season sees anything like the number of people that the Mediterranean would.


Just as remarked upon as the climate, is the traditional friendliness of the Thai people. Thanks to them, it’s very easy to settle here. Now into its fourth decade of looking after people from all over the world, the islanders are thoroughly geared up to guests from outside. Some people, incredibly, take this for granted. They shouldn’t, ever: too many émigrés have set up in other beautiful locations elsewhere in the world only to find themselves shunned and unwelcome. Nothing ruins time abroad more than the vague air of menace. Nobody can expect to be happy in such circumstances, of course. And that’s why so many people enjoy living in Thailand. They feel safe here. Are residents treated with the same friendliness as holidaymakers? And the answer is, yes, they generally are.


Samui is far from being a desert island where you have to bring everything with you. Over the years the shopping situation has improved, and now it’s easy to get pretty much everything here. Big C, Tesco-Lotus and Makro are all present. Central Festival, meanwhile, is a sophisticated shopping and eating destination, vying with the best of Bangkok.


When it comes to health, there are five hospitals to choose from, including the highly-reputed government hospital. They’re able to offer a broad range of treatments as well as on-going help. As yet, however, there’s no MRI on the island, and for this you would need to go to Suratthani on the mainland. Thailand, you may or may not know, is a top-class medical destination, and in Bangkok you’ll find a complete range of medical facilities, treatments and specialists.These days it’s incredibly easy to come and live on Samui – and totally worth it. Naturally, Samui being a smallish island, not every condition can be treated here; if referred off the island by a doctor, then Bangkok is very easy and fast to reach.


Another great advantage to living here is that you’re not alone. You won’t be conspicuous because you can’t speak the language or don’t look Thai. There’s a well-established base of foreign residents; any of them will provide information or point you in the right direction. They’re friendly and helpful and there will be plenty of times when you’ll be able to get some instant advice from them.


So far, so good. But if you still don’t want to take the plunge, then there’s a brilliant half-way solution. It’s very easy to come and live here part-time. Plenty of people do this, living here for various periods of time each year. Three or six months per year on Samui makes sense when you’re not quite ready to go the whole hog.


Are there any disadvantages to living here, you might now be asking? It’s definitely a question you need to resolve before making the move. The foreign residents who live here are again good for answers. What troubles them about their lives here? What’s not so good? There are several factors that most will speak about.


Health insurance is easy to obtain for most people, but if you’re used to living in a country where there’s excellent welfare coverage, then it can be worrying if you even suspect you might not be well covered by your insurance. It’s not just a question of reading the small print, but shopping around in the first place.


Many people used to complain about the state of the roads, but they do so less now – major repairs have taken place and are continuing to do so. However, everyone on the island is aghast at the poor driving here. A disadvantage to living here is that for a small island with only some 200 kilometres of roads, you will need to buy a car in order to feel safe. Don’t ride a motorbike. The island has the worst statistics in Thailand for traffic accidents.


These are the disadvantages. For some would-be residents they will be no more than irks or not even relevant. Weighing everything up, the future’s bright for most of those who want to come to Samui.


The majority of foreign residents who have chosen to live on the island are very happy they made the move. If you ask them if they would be prepared to move back to the Old Country (whichever one it may be) you’ll mostly hear a resounding ‘no’.


Analysis paralysis can tie you up in knots forever and a day. A better way forward: buy the ticket, take the ride. These days you won’t be arriving on a steamship after six months of travel and no easy way to return. As mentioned earlier, this is one place where you can try out living here for a few months. You’ll probably feel like staying and will probably want to find a way to make the move permanent.


 Dimitri Waring


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